Thanksgiving! It is upon us! Go hug your partner, ya'll! Tell 'em thatcha love 'em! Maybe git yerself a chunk of that there stuffin' bread 'afore ya shove it up the bird? Can you hear my accent slowly creeping in now that I'm among my own people? I tried so very hard for so many years to avoid acquiring the traditional southern accent, or Arkansas' particular brand of southern anyhow. When I'm in Minnesota, sometimes people ask me where I'm from and I can say California, and they go, "Oooooh that's where your unusual accent comes from den der, doncha know?" I can pretend like I never said "ain't" and I never drank strawberry wine while wailing the song Strawberry Wine, and I never fished for crawdaddies in the crick. I can hide the real me behind my clodden feet and my hybrid northern accent.
In Arkansas...down here, I'm right back where I started, aren't I? I mean technically, I was born in California, and spent the formative years of my language development there in the land of eerily neutral accents. But if I'm being real with myself, I know the hillbilly blood courses through my veins. No sense in fighting it, might as well embrace it and then embrace my cousin and then possibly my brother.
Today, I am thankful for a lot of things, not the least of which is that I no longer live here. I love my family and my friends and I have a lot of fond memories (well, memories anyway) of my years here, but mostly I am thankful that in my stories of Arkansas, all the verbs are past tense. That is, if I'm speaking rightly like.
I am thankful for Gray, around whom the sun revolves and the stars appear as he shrugs and says he's merely in their flight path on his way to Guitar Center. Gray, who has taught me so much about justice and equality, offsetting the month of horror movies in October by insisting November be filled with chick flicks and bad reality television. He has held my hand through some of the worst moments of my life, even some before we were a couple, and didn't notice when I saw up his boxers as he lay moaning on a gurney, stricken with appendicitis years ago. He's self-less in a selfish kind of way, doing nice things for other people because it's what he wants to do. Ever calm, ever patient, ever empathetic, ever strong. I really don't think I have the ability to express how thankful I am to have him in my life. (Also, in my bed, but that's a whole other kind of post.) Oodles and oodles of noodles, my Lobsta.
I am thankful for my 3 mothers: my birth mother, from whom I've learned so much, both good and bad, and because she now accepts me as I am and doesn't try to change me. My aunt, who was there for me when nobody else truly was, and taught me many countless things about life and love, rum and cokes, and growing a spine. My step-mother, though I've never known her well, has always supported me, loved my father, and given me advice and encouragement when I've needed it most.
My Jill, who I won in the divorce, and who has helped me countless times and in countless ways. Irreplaceable, dependable, strong, funny. Tells me the truth when I need to hear it, tells me what I want to hear when I need it, always knows when to do both. I heart you.
I am thankful for my other friends and family members, a few near, but most of them far. Each has left their own mark on my life and in my heart, each for different reasons, but all because that's what family does. My baby brother, no longer a baby. My little niece, the joy she's brought us all. My sister, who heckled me into finally plucking my eyebrows. My cousins, uncles, grandparents, et al.
Most importantly, above and beyond everything else, on the highest tippy top of things I am thankful for, perches the mighty red wine. You have given me so much and taken so very little.
Be thankful everybody. Or, at the very least, eat a drumstick.